Long time no see, eh? At least here on the Renai, that is! Anyway, I told you at some point in October that I'd get to Rebound at some point, and I'm here today to make good on my word. Let's get cracking...
Starting off with that brief prologue... I thought it was quite effective at what it was setting out to do. It established to the reader that the primary reason for the failure of Lilly's and Hisao's relationship was their failure to be open with each other—a conflict that will become ever-so-important for Hisao and Iwanako.
The other thing that this prologue did well was that it made it clear that Lilly—at least for the first several chapters—would not be a recurring character in this story. Lilly is out of the picture, and this story is not about her... Well, this story is everything
about her, but I mean that she won't be popping up very often—if at all. Probably a wise decision, if Lilly was a major player in this story, it might
have felt too similar to the premise of Dewelar's Developments
—replacing Emi with Iwanako in this case.
Besides that, I don't have much else to say about the prologue, it was short, simple, and it got the job done well. We're off to a good start.
This first chapter was somewhat of a mixed bag... Half of it was okay, and half of it was amazing.
The chapter kicks off with the premise of the entire story: Hisao rereading Iwanako's letter after his breakup with Lilly and finding new meaning in it. This is a great, interesting premise—and Hisao's internal monologue makes that clear... But then, Hisao sort of goes on and on. He starts thinking in circles, and at a certain point, I found it to be repetitive. It sort of felt like Hisao was cycling through the same few, self-deprecating points, but wording them in slightly different ways each time.
However, the scene where Hanako confronts Hisao in his room directly afterwards was nothing short of amazing. The dialogue was spot on, the tension was high, and I absolutely adore
this interpretation of Hanako. It's clear that this is the Hanako from after Lilly's Neutral Ending: much more mature and independent. With Lilly gone, it's satisfying to see Hanako stepping up to fill her role in some sense. Now, Hanako is looking out for Hisao and trying to prevent him from doing anything dumb.
More than anything, this chapter shows us how much closer Hanako and Hisao have become. Rather than the measured and gentle way that they tiptoe around each other in the visual novel, both of them lay their feelings right out on the table—Hanako especially. It's rare to see Hanako getting so angry (other than... you know... Misstep
), but it's a sign that she trusts Hisao enough to not worry about potentially pushing him away. Rather than burying her grievances with Hisao's behavior in order to not risk destroying their friendship, Hanako understands that the two have been through enough together for that not to happen, and treat Hisao like he can handle a little criticism. Likewise, Hisao opening himself up to Hanako and putting his trust into her shows how he
has grown as well.
The second chapter was another shorter one, but it was good for what it was. At long last, we get to see Hisao's response to Iwanako. I think the only time that Hisao responds to Iwanako in the visual novel is in Rin's route, and even then we don't get to read it, so I appreciate that Rebound
was able to scratch that itch for me. Hisao was extremely open in his letter, which means that he's already learning from his mistakes with Lilly.
I think the best
part of this chapter, however, is that it draws parallels between Hisao and this story's interpretation of Iwanako. Iwanako also
had her life "ruined" after Hisao's heart attack. She is bullied, her grades are slipping, and she is no longer in touch with any of her friends. We get to see that Hisao and Iwanako are both
victims in somewhat similar ways. Not only is this story about Hisao "rebounding," but it's about Iwanako "rebounding" as well. At the risk of jumping ahead a little bit, we find out that Hanako is suspicious that Hisao might be taking advantage of Iwanako, but if that's true, Hisao is not taking advantage of Iwanako any
more than she is taking advantage of him... It'd be wrong to just blame Hisao...
Chapter three was another good one. I don't have too much to say about it though; it was quite short, after all. It's great to see Hisao taking care of himself some more, it makes the last two chapters seem all the more meaningful. The Iwanako call was suitably tense, and I thought that the dialogue was quite realistic. I could talk a little more about the content of their call, but I'm going to save that analysis for a later chapter.
Something that excites me is that Hisao is keeping a journal... I wonder if that's going to become more important in the future...
Chapter four was a huge leap in quality and polish. I really liked this one, and it sets the stage for a lot of interesting plot to unfold in the future.
Similar to Xeraeo's other story, To Miss the Mark
, it would appear that Xeraeo wants to avoid retreading the topic of "opening up" to your friends and significant others. As is the case in TMtM
, this is a wise decision. We've had more than enough stories and routes focusing on that topic in both the visual novel and these forums.
Hisao is extremely transparent with Iwanako in this chapter, and Iwanako is also quite transparent about her feelings with Hisao—though not to the same extent that Hisao is. Even though Hisao has completely opened up about himself and his experiences, Iwanako hasn't told Hisao much about her experiences with bullying, social isolation, etc. However, Iwanako makes a pretty good argument to keep that whole issue under wraps for the time being: she doesn't want to guilt him so soon after meeting back up with him. The question now
comes down to when
she is going to reveal everything to Hisao. It'll have to come sooner or later.
Xeraeo wrote: ↑
Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:31 pm
The two are probably tied together in his mind, considering what he said in his letter. Oh, God. Does that mean that this whole conversation is also him apologizing to her?
This brings quote brings up a very interesting conflict that will become increasingly important in the coming chapters. That is, the progression of Hisao's and Iwanako's relationship is remarkably similar to how Hisao's and Lilly's relationship progressed.
- Lilly nearly loses Hisao when he has a heart flutter on the way to Hokkaido; Iwanako nearly loses Hisao when he attempts to leave the café after his apology.
- Not long after, Lilly confesses to Hisao right on the spot and they hug; Not long after, Iwanako confesses to Hisao on the spot and they kiss.
- The two go home and make love; the two go home and make love.
This is all happening extremely fast, and both parties know it. The next logical question being... How will third parties react?
Side Note: Imagine if Iwanako hadn't chased after Hisao when he tried to leave. It would have looked like he was trying to make her foot the whole bill for their drinks! Absolute disgrace, man...
Chapter five was another solid one. The relationship between Hisao and Iwanako was further fleshed out and the chapter very effectively demonstrated how similar Iwanako and Lilly are—something that makes Hisao quite uncomfortable. This chapter also
made me think that Hisao and Hitomi might not fully
be in love with each other yet. Hisao is still not fully recovered from Lilly, and Iwanako just seems kind of desperate for any
kind of positive social connection.
This is a fantastic chapter, filled with so many interesting plot threads and developments. This chapter also gives us a conflict for Hanako that was completely unexpected, totally captivating, and one that I have never seen before on these forums.
At the beginning of the chapter, Naomi and Natsume help Hanako realize—for perhaps the first time—that she is beautiful. As much as Hanako tries to bashfully hide this, you can tell that she feels some gratification and pride at the way the photo on the outlook turned out. But then, Hanako meets Iwanako, and some rather interesting thoughts spring to mind...
Hanako starts to notice the similarities between herself and Iwanako—even down to their names sounding similar. More frighteningly, Hanako can't help but notice that the only real external difference between the two of them are Hanako's scars. As much as Hanako tries to bury her fears, she can't help but wonder if Hisao finds her appearance repulsive—too repulsive to consider becoming closer friends or more than friends. Maybe... Hisao chose Lilly over Hanako because of her scars? Suddenly, the confidence in her own appearance that Hanako had been building up earlier this chapter is challenged—possibly invalidated. What a frightening thought...
This conflict is just plain genius, and I hope that Xeraeo returns to it in future chapters.
This chapter is also excellent. We find out that not only does Hanako wish Hisao had told her about Iwanako sooner, but Iwanako feels the same way. Having Iwanako chase down Hanako in the bathroom and talk it out really shows how mature Iwanako is. It made me like Iwanako even more than I already did. Furthermore, Iwanako handled herself exceptionally well with the timid Hanako. When Iwanako made mistakes, she recovered from them quickly and didn't lose her footing. It did
seem like Hanako was testing Iwanako, but it looks like Hanako feels a little better about the whole situation after the talk.
After the talk, Iwanako walks home and we meet her mother for the first time... There, we find out that not only are their skeptics on Hisao's side of the relationship, but Iwanako's side as well—it's clear that her parents don't approve of the relationship. I'm... not sure how I feel about this. It makes clear, logical sense why Iwanako's parents would disapprove of the relationship, but having "disapproving parents" is such a tired cliché. I just hope that it doesn't become a central conflict of the story.
To further elaborate on what I'm trying to say with the above paragraph... I think that it would make sense that there are skeptics on both sides of the relationship. Hisao's skeptics are his friends, while Iwanako's skeptics—for the time being—are her parents. I think that Hanako's skepticism is extremely
interesting, but that's because the reader already knows a ton about her and we know why
she would be skeptical. However, we know next to nothing about Iwanako's parents, so having them be skeptical of the relationship is not very interesting because we don't have any context for their skepticism other than the most surface level explanation: "Hisao made our daughter sad, so he's nothing but bad." I guess what I'm trying to say is that if Iwanako's parents are going to become major antagonists of the story, then I would like to see them significantly
more fleshed out. Maybe... if one of Iwanako's friends
came into the picture, who had previously known Hisao, and then they
expressed their skepticism about the relationship, that could be a little more interesting...
Chapter eight is nice, lovely fluff at the beginning. Hisao's parents are totally awesome—I hope we see more of them. Mrs. Nakai is like a mellowed-out Misha and Mr. Nakai is that one guy who's always thinks he's being cooler than he actually is. Together, they make for a hilarious pair.
Afterwards, the conversation with Hanako was good... I couldn't help but notice that Hanako is becoming quite protective of Hisao in a Lilly sort of way... I wonder if that's going to become more of a thing as the story progresses.
Chapter nine might just be one of the most important chapters so far. This chapter gave us some much needed development for Iwanako. As Xeraeo himself pointed out in one of his posts, Iwanako hadn't been given as much focus as Hisao had been given up until this chapter. While Hisao's conflict is fleshed out and compelling, Iwanako had yet to be fleshed out and truly established. I was starting to get worried that this was all
we were getting about Iwanako, so I'm glad that this chapter proved me wrong. This chapter reminded me that, indeed, Iwanako is a person
, with a life
, and interests
, and a personality
Also, Ichika is a sweetheart. She's awesome. I like how she handled the news about the relationship. She faked Iwanako out by pretending to be mad and then got all excited at the end. Her dialogue made me laugh out loud multiple times. Also, I like how she contrasts Hanako in this story. Whereas Hanako is skeptical and somewhat disapproving of Hisao's relationship with Iwanako, Ichika is extremely supportive of their relationship. While Hanako worries that Iwanako and Hisao may end up hurting each other, Ichika points out something to Iwanako that refutes Hanako's fears:
Xeraeo wrote: ↑
Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:35 pm
"Because you were smiling the whole time you were talking with him. I haven't seen you smiling like that in forever."
While Hanako fears that Iwanako and Hisao may end up hurting each other, Ichika points out the undeniable truth that there is feelings between the two, and that the two of them are happy together.
Xeraeo wrote: ↑
Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:26 pm
If I don't hear back from you, then I guess I'll know that a blew my last chance to talk to you, and this will have to be goodbye.
The above quote is from chapter two. It would appear that the underlined "a" should be an "I."
I didn't have anywhere else to fit this in, but I am highly curious about how Lilly is going to react to everything that has transpired... When she finds out that Hisao is dating another girl so soon after the breakup, her worst fears are going to be realized. Lilly is going to think that her relationship with Hisao was
a high school fling. I just hope that she takes it well when she inevitably finds out...
Something else I noticed... This interpretation of Iwanako is kind of a fusion of Hanako and Lilly... A fact that will probably make both Hanako and Lilly uncomfortable. In Hanako's case, she is already
quite uncomfortable with the whole thing.
On the flip side, Iwanako is the polar opposite of Hitomi. Hitomi is cold, aloof, and difficult to communicate with. Iwanako is expressive, emotional, easy to communicate with, and cries a heck of a lot more than Hitomi does.
Overall, this is a great, well-written story that I'm looking forward to seeing play out. It doesn't look like it's going to be as long as a proper route—I wouldn't be surprised if the story ended after summer break ends—but it's clear that we have plenty of plot and conflict to make our way through before we can start to talk about an ending. The initial few chapters didn't feel quite
as polished, but the story finds its footing starting with chapter four and the quality of each chapter has been very high from then on.
But yeah, with an interesting premise, engrossing conflicts, great new characters, unique uses of old characters, and the same high-quality prose that's the standard of Xeraeo, this story is a keeper. I look forward to reading more when the this story is taken off of hold. No rush, though. Take your time, Xeraeo.
Take care, everyone!